I have an essay called "Saving Violet" coming out in their Spring 2013 print edition.
I was a finalist at the Mayborn Conference in 2012. My essay, "Build It and They Will Come," which is about working in a jail will be out in the summer of 2013.
In 2010, I was a finalist at the Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference for my essay, Surrender. The essay was published in UNT's literary journal, Ten Spurs, in 2011.
After attending the San Juan Writer's Workshop, I decided to submit an essay to Creative Nonfiction for their "Silence Kills" issue. Much to my surprise, I was a finalist in their contest and in addition to being published in Creative Nonfiction issue 33, I was also published in Silence Kills: Speaking out and Saving Lives. My essay is You Have the Right to Remain Silent. This was my first time being published and I was incredibly excited!
I submitted my moment to Smith Magazine. It was about the loss of hope. You can read it here.
I was published online on Braided Brook. You can read my essay Some Great Reward here.
I was a guest blogger for the Dallas Morning News' Death Penalty Blog during the Alternative Spring Break. You can read the posts here.
You can read my article here.
Me and my husband were in this article - totally not death related
Here's the article.
Written by Therese Apel
As condemned killer Larry Matthew Puckett has sat on death row the last 16 years, he has not been silent.
He has been writing.
Through a website called "Prisoner Express, the bridge between prisoners and the outside world," as well as a Facebook group started by his family called "Letters from Matt," Puckett is able to make contact with family, friends and supporters.
But barring success from last-minute appeals or a gubernatorial pardon, Puckett's pen will be stilled Tuesday.
Puckett, 35, is scheduled to die by lethal injection.
"It has to come, I can't stop it. The prospect alone is just too damn close for comfort," he wrote in an essay six years ago.
Puckett has been a writer since high school, his mother said, and he has recorded many of the details of his day-to-day life at the State Penitentiary at Parchman.
Despite ongoing legal efforts to stop his execution, in his writings he doesn't protest his sentence or insist on his innocence. Instead the musings reflect the changes he has gone through during his incarceration.
The postings on Prisoner Express and Facebook have rallied support for letter-writing campaigns and a petition to Gov. Phil Bryant for mercy for Puckett.
Puckett was sentenced to death in 1996 in Forrest County for the sexual battery and murder of Rhonda Griffis, the wife of his former employer, David Griffis.
Nancy Hatten, Rhonda Griffis' mother, found Puckett inside the Griffis' home with an axe handle that was determined to be the murder weapon.
Hatten could not be reached for comment. But contacted last month, she said she didn't want to talk about Puckett. Instead, she spoke to The Clarion-Ledger about her daughter.
"She was our only daughter, and she was well loved," Hatten said. "We miss her deeply, and nothing will ever take that hurt away or that emptiness. It's always going to be there."
Puckett's family still declares his innocence, pointing to his assertion the victim's husband, who was also on the scene, committed the murder.
Puckett's mother, Mary Stennett Puckett, said she believes that's part of why his writings are so deep and introspective instead of angry.
"I think Matt has that peace because he is innocent. As his family, we believe that. He knew we believed that, and we never doubted him," she said.
Messages left at the Forrest County district attorney's office were not returned.
In an essay called "My Turn," Matt Puckett wrote after a 2006 execution about knowing his date could be coming. He starts the essay talking about what it's like to step up to the plate in a baseball game and take a pitch.
"But what really matters is when it's your turn and you don't want it; when it's involuntary that you must 'step up to the plate,'" he wrote.
Puckett also wrote to people who would write to him in prison. One of them was Texas writer Pamela Skjolsvik, who he asked to critique his writings and send them back. Skjolsvik said Puckett has written to her about the men who were executed while he has been on death row.
"He did it mostly as a tribute to them because most of what's written out there is about their crimes," she said.
He even wrote about them when he didn't necessarily like the men, such as the essay he wrote in May 2010 about Gerald James Holland, who was put to death for raping and killing a 15-year-old girl.
"The few conversations we had quickly showed me he was not the kind of person I wanted to do my time around," Puckett wrote, later adding that living next door to Holland on death row taught him a lot about "how people operate."
Skjolsvik said she never asked Puckett about his crime. She didn't want to know. But, she said, the man he has become behind prison walls, is intelligent, disciplined and curious about life.
"He's also very compassionate toward the people he's around," she said.
Mary Puckett said after the Supreme Court turned down her son's appeal, she spoke with him on the phone.
"He told me he realized all these years he'd been preparing himself that if it came to this and he wouldn't win, he'd been keeping the faith and knew what he needed to do," she said.
But she said he hadn't done "the one thing he should have done."
Matt Puckett told his mother he should have prepared her better for the possibility he would be executed.
Skjolsvik said that's the man she had come to know through his essays.
"He's very worried about his family and his mom," Skjolsvik said. "He knows this is going to be really difficult for her."
Mary Puckett said she has been sending her son books about how to write short stories. "His writing has matured as he has," she said.
She talked about the journal he started in 2004.
"The journal is more of a daily thing: people he interacted with, thoughts he had, these kind of things," she said. "Some were pretty graphic, and he didn't want me to read them."
In an essay titled, "Taking a Stand," Puckett wrote on the Prisoner Express website of a time when death row inmates went on strike to have deplorable conditions changed. As a result of their efforts, he said, as of 2005 things had been improved greatly, including screens in the windows, plumbing corrections and fans in the unairconditioned cells among other things.
"Sometimes you won't have people to stand with you - that should not be a deterrent. Ultimately it is you that must decide and you that must take a stand," he wrote. "No matter what, this country allows you that right, exercise it, but treat it as if it will go away if you don't."
Puckett, who says in an essay that he was the first Eagle Scout to graduate from his high school, also writes about his time in the Boy Scouts, and how he falls back on the things he learned.
"Being in the scouts was a great time in my life. I can't sufficiently account for how I made the jump from there to death row, but that is how my life has progressed," he wrote. "Reliving those experiences is one of the ways to deal with this situation."
On Feb. 8, Hart Turner was executed for the 1995 shooting deaths of Eddie Brooks and Everett Curry. Puckett and Turner had been friends.
"It's just too close for comfort for me. I know how close my turn is and it even makes my heart race to write about a sequence of events that I am, at present, safely removed from," he wrote in 2006.
And yet, Puckett offers comfort to his readers as well.
"I'm not sure what I should have learned from all this death. That life is precious? Yeah, I get that. That life should be lived to the fullest? No doubt there either," Puckett wrote about the 2008 execution of Earl Wesley Berry.
"I guess I'm astonished to think that as depraved as all humans are, Jesus still loves us and wants to save us. That is such an extraordinary realization."